Each February we observe American Heart Month – an important observance since 1964, with the mission to spread awareness around the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, its risk factors, and the steps people can take to prevent it with the ultimate goal of saving lives.1 In fact, five years ago, Million Hearts®, a public-private partnership was created, to make that goal even more specific: to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Million Hearts is expected to report on its progress this spring and is planning to present a new goal of preventing one million events by 2022.

Reaching those goals would have a big impact on American’s heart health. Just think about these numbers:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American women and men, accounting for one in three deaths in the U.S.2
  • Americans suffer more than two million heart attacks and strokes each year.3
  • Each day, 2,200 people die from cardiovascular disease.4

This year, Million Hearts is calling upon young Americans to discuss heart disease prevention measures with their parents through “heart to heart” conversations. According to Million Hearts, young Americans are now living at home or in close contact with older relatives in record numbers and, as a result, are an important and influential voice within the family.5 Million Hearts suggests using that as an opportunity to mobilize young people to actively participate in their parents’ heart health and to serve as their support system.

An area where young Americans can play a particularly important role in mitigating heart disease risk factors is helping their families eat a more balanced, heart-healthy diet. One simple recommendation they can make is to enjoy one yogurt every day. In a large, ongoing longitudinal study, yogurt consumption was found to be associated with lower systolic blood pressure. The study described yogurt as “a good source of several micronutrients and may help to improve diet quality and maintain metabolic well-being as part of a healthy, energy-balanced dietary pattern.” It also found that yogurt consumers, compared with non-consumers, had higher potassium levels and were less likely to have inadequate intakes of vitamins B2 and B12, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.6

The nutrition community can play a part in helping Million Hearts achieve its goals by encouraging and mobilizing young Americans to use their influence to champion heart health. It’s something we can all do, whole-heartedly.


Philippe Caradec
Vice President of Corporate Affairs, The Dannon Company

1 American Heart Association, President Obama Declares February as American Heart Month, http://news.heart.org/ president-obama-declares-february-americanheart- month. Accessed January 23, 2017.

2 Costs & consequences. https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/learn-prevent/costconsequences. html. Accessed February 9, 2017.

3 American Heart Association, Heart and Stroke Statistics, www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/General/Heart-and-Stroke-Association-Statistics_UCM_319064_SubHomePage.jsp. Accessed January 23, 2017.

4 HSS. HHS Million hearts consumer fact sheet – Customizable version, (2012). https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/files/MH_Fact_Sheet.pdf. Accessed January 24, 2017.

5 American heart month. https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/news-media/events/heartmonth. html. Accessed February 17, 2017.

6 Wang H, Livingston K, Fox CS, Meigs JB, Jacques PF. Yogurt consumption is associated with better diet quality and metabolic profile in American men and women. Nutr Res. 2013;33:18–26.

Report Recommends
Revised WIC Packages Top 2017 Trends

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has proposed revisions to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) that would align WIC packages more closely to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The recommendations include adding fish; increasing the amount of whole grains; and increasing vegetables and fruits while or decreasing juice, milk, legumes, peanut butter, infant vegetables and fruits, and infant meats. It also recommended specifications for breakfast cereals, yogurt, soy beverage, and new grain options.

A study of WIC participants in California, found that that 86 percent of the respondents wanted to substitute some of their milk with yogurt.7 The new report suggests that offering yogurt as an alternative to milk may help improve dairy redemption and consumption.8

AHA Explores CVD Link to Skipping Breakfast, Meal Timing

We’ve always been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) may help explain why. Published in AHA’s journal Circulation, the statement suggests that the timing and planning of meals, including not skipping breakfast, are patterns associated with healthier diets.

Although AHA acknowledges that the statement is not conclusive and more research is needed, the report cites research demonstrating that people who eat breakfast daily are less likely to have high cholesterol and blood pressure, and people who skip breakfast — about 20 percent to 30 percent of U.S. adults — are more likely to be obese, have inadequate nutrition, show evidence of impaired glucose metabolism or be diagnosed with diabetes. The report also looked at circadian rhythms and suggested that meal timing and frequency may also be linked to cardiovascular disease risk factors.9

USDA: Americans Eating More Calories but Not Recommended Food

Since 1970, Americans have been steadily increasing the amount of food they consume but aren’t choosing foods recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, according to a new report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The report looked at food availability and consumption from 1970 to 2014 and found that, on average, Americans consume too many foods that are high in added fats and oils, added sugar and sweeteners, and grains and too few nutrient-dense foods and beverages, such as vegetables, seafood, low-fat dairy products, and fruit.

In regards to dairy, the Guidelines recommend that Americans on a 2,000-calorieper- day diet consume three cups of milk and milk products per day. According to the lossadjusted food availability data, in 2014, Americans were consuming less than half that amount — about 1.5 cupequivalents. 10

Put Your Best Fork Forward in March

March is almost here and we’re getting ready to celebrate National Nutrition Month®, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ annual campaign to drive awareness around the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and physical activity habits. This year, the Academy wants to remind consumers that when it comes to food choices, every bite counts with the campaign theme Put Your Best Fork Forward. The campaign is meant to inspire Americans to make small changes that will develop into lasting habits.
7 Fung EB, Ritchie LD, Walker BH, Gildengorin G, Crawford PB. Randomized, controlled trial to examine the impact of providing yogurt to women enrolled in WIC. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2010;42(3):S22– S29. doi:10.1016/j.jneb.2010.02.009. 8 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. 2017. Review of WIC food packages: Improving balance and choice: Final Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. DOI: 10.17226/23655. Accessed January 24, 2017. 9 St-Onge M-P, Ard J, Baskin ML, et al. Meal timing and frequency: Implications for cardiovascular disease prevention: A scientific statement from the American heart association. Circulation. January 2017:CIR.0000000000000476. doi:10.1161/cir.0000000000000476. 10 U.S. Department of Agriculture. U.S. Trends in Food Availability and a Dietary Assessment of Loss-Adjusted Food Availability, 1970-2014. https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs /publications/eib166 /eib-166.pdf?v=42762. Accessed February 9, 2017.

OYED has some terrific resources that can help those who have put following a healthy eating pattern on their 2017 resolution list. Check out our fact sheet on the components of a healthy eating pattern. Another excellent resource is the MyPlate Daily Checklist, which shows people their daily targets for each food group